Action Needed Against Inaction of Police: Kanak Tv Man Moves the High Court

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A journalist working with Kanak Tv saw a BJD stalwart of Pipili looting a valuable tree from a public place. As a conscious citizen, in due deference to duties enshrined in the Constitution, he advised the person concerned, Prabhakar Behera on the spot, not to cut down the tree. Behera intimidated and dismissed him. This gave birth to media exposure of the loot of the tree by the BJD activist.

On 9th June evening when the said Tv Journalist, Mr. Akhand was returning from his office, Behera tried to murder him at Kanthapur near Kamalasagar patna, under the Pipili Police Station. Narrowly escaping death with severe injuries, Akhand went to the P.S. and filed his complaint.

The Police, on seeing the serious injuries on his body, took instant cognizance of the grievous offense and treated it as FIR and registered P. S. Case No. 112/20120 on the same day, i.e. June 9, 2010 under Sections 307 / 389 / 506 / 294 / 341 and 323 of IPC.

But the matter has been blocked there and the Police, under ruling party pressure, is sloughing over the case.

Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) reflected the agony of the entire community of scribes of the State in its open appeal to the Home-cum-Chief Minister seeking his intervention in view of visible Police inaction.

No action is yet taken against the miscreant.

Akhand has gone to Orissa High Court seeking action against inaction of Police wherein he has named the Police Officers that have slept over the case. His petition is registered as WP-Crl-448/2010.

Now the questions are: why the Police Station is sleeping over the case even after taking cognizance of grievous offenses like attempt to murder?

Do the BJD members enjoy immunity in practicing loot and arson by stymieing the police in its action as in the matter of murderous assault on the Kanak Tv man by a hoodlum whom the ruling party patronizes?

Are the journalists expected to rush to law courts to seek protection from ruling party goons and dangers designed by the police in nexus with the goons?

If judicial activism is carrying yet any meaning, these questions may suo motu be taken up in interest of society and democracy. And the Police should be subjected to exemplary punishment for sleeping over grievous offenses like attempt to murder even after registering appropriate cases in the P.S.

JUDICIARY HELPS DEMOCRACY AT ATHGARH, BUT THE ISSUE IS DIFFERENT

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In these pages, on April 7, 2009, under the caption “Spirit of democracy is in danger at Athgarh: EC must immediately interfere”, I had noted:

Obliteration of BJD candidate from the election scenario in Athgarh on flimsy / misconceived / misconstrued technical grounds is nothing but denial of voting rights to the voters who should, as members and supporters of BJD, have certainly voted for Sri Swain. This is nothing but a bureaucratic assault on democracy.

I am happy that the Orissa High Court has nullified the rejection of nomination papers of Swain and tried to save democracy from bureaucratic assault.

But the High Court’s verdict also stands on technical defects in the order of the Returning Officer;when the real issue staying away from its purview, has not been judicially tested.

The real issue that is more relevant to democracy revolves round the conduct of the Returning Officer (R.O.) as well as the Election Commission (EC). Had the EC heard Swain in right earnest and corrected the wrong committed by its agent, the R.O., the situation for the case before the High Court should never have developed.

In my article cited supra, I had mentioned;

A section of voters belonging to the Athgarh Assembly Constituency in the District of Cuttack are subjected to a situation where they cannot vote for the candidate of their choice in election 2009. The Returning Officer has virtually preempted their democratic participation by rejecting the nomination papers of BJD candidate Ranendra Pratap Swain on technical ground. But the ground is very flimsy and in fact mischievous enough to render voting right of those citizens inconsequential.

The Returning Officer believes that he is right in rejecting the nomination papers of Sri Swain. He cites election guidelines in support of the action he has taken. The guidelines say that a candidate of a political party shall have to annex the party ticket to the nomination papers. In Swain’s case, at the time of scrutiny on April 6 it was found that only the Xerox copy of his party ticket was annexed, not the original. Hence, his nomination papers were rejected.

This technicality kills the spirit of democracy.

Democracy is a moving political system. It cannot be stymied with misconceived guidelines of the Election Commission or by bureaucratic blunt heads. …………………………………..EC is empowered to conduct the election. He is not empowered to conduct non-election of any candidate by his party members and supporters. In rejecting Ranendra Pratap’s nomination papers the Returning Officer acting on behalf of the EC has tried to play exactly this mischief.

If the R.O was right that the party ticket submitted by Swain was not in original but merely a Xerox copy thereof, I had argued that it was the R.O.’s duty to collect the ticket from BJD or to ascertain the correctness of the Xeroxed ticket placed before him by tallying the issuing authority’s signature with the signature thereon. But the R.O. has failed to do this and instead has created a severe dislocation in peoples’ duty to elect their preferred representative.

In yet another article on April 15, 2009 titled “Election Commission strangulated democracy at Athgarh: whither has gone judicial activism?” I had noted in these pages:

BJD members had proposed Swain’s name as their party candidate for Orissa Assembly from Athgarh in the ensuing election. They had attached the party ticket, which was received by them from the BJD office. The R.O. determined that the party ticket was a Xerox copy, but not the original and consequently, after lapse of two days, rejected it. It was not a proper step. The R.O. should have tried to ascertain from BJD as to whether or not the Swain was its official candidate. The time gap between submission of nomination papers and scrutiny thereof was meat for that. If the EC has not trained the R.O. to use the time gap in this respect, then it is the EC’s fault.

However, if the candidate is not declared disqualified on the basis of constitutional stipulations and if the Party concerned has not disowned the ticket or the candidacy, the nomination papers should never have been turned down under the plea that the party ticket was a Xerox copy, not the original.

Unless an allegation of forgery is specifically raised, the Xerox paper is to be treated as a legal document. It is well settled that fax messages are as genuine as original and administration is running on faxed messages if specimen signature therein tallies with that of the authorized person. Except the mode of transportation, there is no difference between a faxed document and a Xeroxed document. . The R.O. should have studied the signature on the Xeroxed copy of the BJD ticket with that of the specimen of the authorized officer of BJD available with him and should have accepted the same on further verification if thought prudent. But he should never have created a situation for abstention of voters in Athgarh constituency as no law can compel them to vote for anybody who is not their party candidate.

When Swain appealed to the EC against the decision of the RO, the wrong could have been rectified. But sadly and surprisingly, the EC decided not to apply its mind in favor of applied democracy. This has given birth to a typical stymie on political participation of a section of qualified citizenry in election. The right to vote guaranteed under the Constitution is in jeopardy under an executive order issued by the EC in Athgarh constituency.

I still stand by the issue I had raised in these two articles. The crux of the issue is: whether the R.O. had not erred in his duty by not ascertaining from BJD the genuineness or otherwise of the party ticked submitted by Swain.

On the other hand, when the High Court, as reported, has determined that the R.O. was wrong in rejecting the nomination on ground of absence of party ticket in original because receipt of the original ticket was duly acknowledged by the R.O., it is necessary that the same R.O. notwithstanding his present posting must now be prosecuted against for having deliberately acted against democracy in Athgarh context.

Ramesh Raut, whose election to Assembly from Athgarh has been nullified on the ground of nullification of rejection of Swain’s papers has claimed that he cannot be held responsible for defects with the R.O. and therefore, the mandate of the majority of voters of Athgarh in sending him as their representative to the Assembly should not have been nullified by the High Court, may give an opportunity to the Supreme court to review the entire matter. If it happens, it would be proper for the Apex Court to react on the issues raised above by determining the responsibility of the concerned R.O. with matching punishment.

Otherwise, there should be no hesitation in holding that rape of democracy goes unpunished in our country.

MORE FUNDS PLEDGED TO NON-PLAN: DEFICIT TO BE MET BY LOAN

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
After the day was lost to repeat of adjournments following formal obituary mention, Orissa Legislative Assembly on June 22, as the Opposition Congress walked out, got the Finance Minister Prafulla C. Ghadai place the final budget at 5 in the evening for the current Financial Year that pledges 52.53 per cent of the total amount of Rs. 39,896.59 crore to non-plan, while proposing 33.09 per cent to plan sector.

As against estimated revenue expenditure of Rs 32,418.95 crore, the Government has estimated to have revenue receipts of Rs 31, 445.30 crore that projects a revenue deficit of Rs 1,036.65 crore for the year 2010-11 when in totality the fiscal deficit amounts to Rs.8,208.15 crore. Ghadai indicates ways to make up the deficit through loan and assistance to the tune of Rs.7308.26 crore besides recovery of loan and advances amounting about Rs.243.15 crore. The money thus proposed to be burrowed would increase the total amount of loan the State has made to Rs.43523.11 crore by the end of this fiscal.

Curiously the departments and projects marked for deficiency in funds utilization and corruption have been encouraged with more funds even as ventures designed for posthumous political use of the Chief Minister’s father have bagged sumptuous priority.

Treated with scant priority are departments of Commerce, Law, Civil Supplies and Consumer Welfare, Planning and Coordination, Industries, Forest and Environment, Energy, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry and Cooperation.

RAJYASBHA ELECTION IN ORISSA: AN INSTANCE OF DEMOCRATIC DECADENCE

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

To the preening prince of Bijudom, success of the BJD candidates in Rajyasabha election in Orissa is a matter of pride. But it is an instance of democratic decadence.

The super-supremo of the ruling party Pyari Mohan Mohapatra’s assertion much ahead of filing of nomination papers that 111 of 147 MLAs would certainly cast their votes to help BJD bag the three seats, studied vis-à-vis his post election assertion that, had a member from the Opposition belonging to the third candidate’s caste not betrayed at the last moment, the figure of 111 could certainly have been maintained, makes it unambiguously clear that ruling party had fixed the election much before filing the nominations.

Mohapatra sans qualms has given the calculation. According to him, there has been no dislocation in the votes in their pocket that include the entire103 votes belonging to BJD, four votes of NCP, one vote of CPI and two votes of independent candidates. These constitute 110 votes. Had the other one vote they were sure of getting not betrayed, there could never have been any deviation in reaching the 111 votes target, he claims.

The NCP and CPI votes being party guided, their support to BJD do not merit attention, even though their dilly-dally in declaring their support much after BJD’s declaration that they were in its pocket, has put them under such a cloud that, were they been able to understand how dark was its lining, they should have felt ashamed. The two independent MLAs have long since been trying to ingratiate themselves to power for reasons best known to themselves and there is no surprise in their vote going to BJD pocket.

But what about the horse whose support the BJD was sure of, even before filing of the nomination papers and whose name it has not yet disclosed? In matters like the election to Rajyasabha any secret pact with any member of the Assembly beyond officially known alliance breaths all the obnoxious shenanigans that push democracy to deepened decadence. It is a matter of solace that the secret horse has jumped back to where it belongs.

Admittedly there were a few confused ones in the Rajyasabha voters’ list who did not know how to vote, as nullification of ballot papers have shown. But if one looks at the Speaker and the deputy Speaker of the Assembly priding over their party loyalty, one wonders as to whither has gone our democracy.

No law puts a specific ban on casting of vote by the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker of an Assembly in the Rajyasabha poll. But democratic prudence does not permit it. Any member of the Assembly belonging or not belonging to a political party can become a Speaker/Deputy Speaker on being elected by the members of the House. But once elected to the august office, neither of them is permitted to vote on any matter involving the Assembly except casting vote to resolve a deadlock. Democratic prudence needs both of them to liberate themselves from their party cocoons and to stay beyond party-prejudice till at least end of their tenure.

But, as we marked, both of them were included in the list of voters that Pyari Mohan Mahapatra, though a candidate for the Rajyasabha seat, had declared and both of them attended the orientation meeting of BJD MLAs before the voting day, where writ of the same candidate was running high and in fact, they had to cast their respective votes for the candidates of BJD. They had to work under the secret whip of the party as is evidenced by the fact that the Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat had to vote for the candidate Pyari Mohan Mohapatra whereas the Deputy Speaker Lal Bihari Himirika had to vote for Sashi Bhusan Behera, the second candidate.

Any ordinary member of the Assembly after being elected Speaker or Deputy Speaker holds highest apolitical office of the state and gets sumptuously paid to discharge the duties of his office. His office becomes the office that runs the Assembly to which the council of ministers stays answerable. Hence, in democracy, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are officers that are different from the Ministers in their respective roles in democracy. Ministers stay political despite receiving salary from the state, as their role in a democracy is necessarily political, they being part of a government run by a political party. So there is no illegality in them casting votes in election to Rajyasabha. But the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are distinctly different. Though elected as party candidates, where they contest as such, they are paid to act apolitical after their respective elections.
Under Article 189 of the Constitution of India, the “Speaker shall not vote in the first instance, but shall have and exercise a casting vote in case of equality of votes”. The spirit of the Constitution in stipulating that the “Speaker shall not vote in the first instance” is based on necessity of the Speaker to act impartial or apolitical. This spirit of the constitution has been killed by the Speaker as he has acted political in casting vote for a political party candidate under secret whip of the ruling political party.

On the other hand, the Speaker neither belongs to the Government nor he heads the Government. But he undoubtedly heads the office of the Assembly for which he gets salaries from the exchequer that the Government controls and administers. So his office is fit to be construed as a government office. This aspect has not attracted any attention as yet. But the instant case craves for attention to this aspect. Judiciary should look into this and decide the official status of the speaker as to whether or not he holds a government office. In case, it is judicially determined that the Speaker holds a Government Office, that too apolitical, his casting of vote in the Rajyasbha election in respect of a political contestant must be declared illegal and for use of a Government office-holder for capturing political position through enforced voting should also be declared illegal. This is specifically essential in view of the fact that the Constitution that has allowed every government officers of the country to cast his/her vote in general elections, has not allowed any government officer to vote for Rajyasabha , restricting the voting only to members of the Assembly that are not Government office holders, save the ministers distinguished supra.

The Rajyasabha election on June 17 in Orissa is indicative of democratic decadence. Lovers of democracy need to take note of it and try to save democracy from the hands that play havoc upon it.

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak’s Singhabalokan Formally Launched

A compilation of Subhas Chandra Pattanayak’s works of animadversion published originally in Orissa’s highest circulated daily major Sambad was formally launched in the auditorium of the Red Cross Bhawan at Bhubaneswar in the evening of June 13, retaining the column title Singhabalokan.

Editor of Sambad, Sri Soumya Ranjan Pattanaik offered the mega work as a token of launching to the former Director of Orissa Treasuries and Member of Orissa Public Service Commission Sri Hemant Kumar Das, who is also well known for his uncategorized comments on current events. In response, Sri Das recalled how effective were the articles delivered in the column Singhabalokan and welcomed the compilation thereof that, to him, would enrich Orissa with a matchless storehouse of reference on subjects from administration to information.

Addressing the event as the Chief Guest, Sri Pattanaik described Sri Subhas Chandra Pattanayak as the lighthouse in journalism whose analysis of current events presented with uncommon courage of conviction on the basis of documentary details that he digs out, interprets and relies upon in editorializing his reports, is unique.

“It is not that I always agreed to his analysis, but depiction of the other side of the discernible being his forte, I used to publish them as a challenge to whosoever could come out with a different view with similar strength of argument for proper appreciation of the public”, he said.

Describing the author as a single-minded journalist who dwells in his topic sans fear and compromise, he recalled that as a newspaper operator with economic and politico-social obligations, it was not always easy to publish his merciless exposures on luminaries in power, who were, bruised by his pen, crying out allegations of one-sidedness; but, he said, “I used to publish them as to me Sri Subhas Chandra Pattanayak was not saying anything beyond boundaries of research that he was meticulously making before reaching at a conclusion; and once in a conclusion, he was presenting his findings oblivious of who gets affected”. He said, he rather liked to side with Sri Pattanayak’s one-sidedness, as to him “the lighthouse is always one-sided for which navigators get saved from wandering into the wrong side. The author of Singhabalokan is such a lighthouse”, he said.

Recalling the specialties, as the editor he had marked in Subhas babu’s writing, he informed that the same may be seen as classic instances of how best the vast Oriya vocabulary could be journalistically used in depicting tricky and sensitive issues. “In Sri Pattanayak’s writings one finds not only new approach to the subject in hand, but also finds new formation of words in Oriya that makes one understand the technically difficult and tricky topic with ease and clarity” he said, citing a few of his contributions to Oriya vocabulary such as “Dhanatantra” meaning the politico-economic mischief of wealth and “Kabaratantra” connoting to overall mischief of an atrocious press. He strongly recommended Singhabalokan to serious researchers on socio-cultural and politico-economic life of Orissa, if the missing links in her past history and between the lines of contemporary times forms the crux of the research.

Speaking as the Guest of Honor, eminent journalist Sri Prasant Patnaik discussed on the courage of conviction sic passim in journalistic deliveries of Subhas Chandra Pattanayak while simultaneously showing how Sambad has become the top most circulated daily because of its courage displayed in carrying columns like that of Subhas babu and pioneering column publication as a regular feature amongst Orissa’s newspapers matching its pioneer role in adopting high-tech components in newspaper industry. He harped on reader contribution to newspaper economy by supporting rise in price per copy of the editions, as to him reader-publisher collaboration in newspaper publication is a must for evolution of independent press by reduction of massive dependence of newspapers on advertisers.

Prof. Biswaranjan, eminent author and Editor of Orissa’s latest daily major, Khabar, was in the the Chair.

Discussing on the ever-lasting relevance of subjects dealt in-depth in Singhabalokan, he said that the author has not only made his contributions exemplary in journalism by basically making them research-based, but also has made them so strong in language and so poetic in expression that they emerge as a distinguished entity of penmanship that elevates journalism from a profession to a culture.

Major Prof. Kumudini Barai proposed the vote of thanks. On behalf of publisher Bharat Bharati, Sri Umesh Prasad Sahoo presented the book for launching.

The mega collection is priced at 500 INR per copy.

Nandini Satpathy Fondly Recalled

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Nandini Satpathy had epitomized the determination against gender discrimination and was in her assertive best in the male dominated political scenario. In this respect she was the first in Orissa and one of the first few in India that have made their marks in applied democracy.

Orissa, to her credit, had, before emergence of Nandini, excellent leaders amongst the women like Sarala Devi, Rama Devi and Malati Choudhury. But, though legendary Gandhians, none of these leaders had ever been in assertive politics.

One of the three founders of Communist Party of India in Orissa, Bhagavati Charan Panigrahi, who philosophized annihilation of exploiters through his immortal character Ghinua, which depicted in Mrigaya bestowed upon Mithun Chakravarty his first national award for best acting, and who is regarded as the initiator of progressive writing in Orissa was her elder father. Bhagabati’s younger brother and who was the first to refuse to salute Sri Jagannath as the supreme deity of the land but saluted him as a mark of respect for all the labor of the artist who created his image and all those workers who built up his excellent temple in a powerfully speaking poem, Kalandi Charan Panigrahi was the father of Nandini. She not only inherited but also epitomized this revolutionary inheritance and therefore, it is she that could dominate the mail-dominated political spectrum. She defeated in elections most popular stalwarts like Biren Mitra and Malati Choudhury and in that all the shadow fighters including luminaries like Biju Patnaik and H.K.Mahtab. But amidst all her astuteness in assertive politics, she was absolutely humane, abundantly affectionate, immensely friendly and unfailingly motherly.

I was a victim of machinations in emergency as I was expressly against administrative interference on freedom of press. Over-enthusiast bureaucrats had made the climate so clumsy that emergency became synonymous with oppression. Because of her assertive manners, in the mass mind, she appeared to be the architect of all that denigrated democracy in the regime. And, to the best of my ability I had tried to expose the excesses. Naturally the bruised mandarins were eager to teach me a lesion and the time was such that for anything tyrannous, not the mandarins, but Nandini the Chief Minister was viewed responsible. I was not different in my perception too. But she was such in her private life that when my father Nishanath Pattanayak passed away, I got the first condolence message from her in writing through a special messenger.

She was in fact a wonderful personality in politics. She was in public perception the architect of emergency excesses in Orissa. But to the progressive people, she architected assertion of State against indiscipline. She architected land reform and accommodated the communists to the extent of reshaping state approach to progress. It is she who gave rural orientation to industry by commissioning a spinning mill at Govindpur of Dhenkanal to begin with, which in the context of those days was a unique instance of prioritization in planning beyond the beaten track. But remarkable was her ease in enjoying life like boundless commons sans artificiality of politics in the domain of her heart.

Her birthday was celebrated on 8th at the State Information Center she had founded in Bhubaneswar. The day had begun with an exhibition of her photos that are preserved by her son Tathagat Satpathy, M.P. and editor of Dharitri. In the evening, its auditorium was jam-packed to remember her and to hear eminent writer and activist Indira Goswamy as well as Sarojini Sahoo. Both of them, famous for emancipatory writing in interest of women, paid their rich tributes to Mrs Satpathy who had personified women emancipation even as they dealt with the unending psycho-physical trauma females are yet being subjected to in the male-dominated society. Juxtaposing the present time with the time of the formative stage of Mrs Satpathy, they praised her for having pioneered the rise of a new epoch where females feel free to face the challenge from the gender-supremacists.

The event with Tathagat Satpathy in the chair and coordinated by Bijay Malla was consecrated with a video show on Mrs Satpathy and with the magic of Orissi presented by famous danseuse Sujata Mohapatra.

MUFP DEMANDS ACTION AGAINT POLICEMEN IN ROURKELA FOR ASSAULT ON PRESS

The Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP ) has strongly condemned the assault on mediapersons on duty at Bangamunda , Rourkela by the police on Tuesday and has asked the Chief Minister for immediate exemplary action against the erring police officials in order to stop ruining freedom of Press in the State.

The MUFP fully supports the mediapersons of Rourkela and all their steps to save the freedom and honour of Press.

Noting with concern that during the last one year assault on Press by the Police and by economic offenders in nexus with the Police has alarmingly increased taking advantage of nonchalant manners of the state administration, the MUFP has urged the Chief Minister to seriously review all the instances of assault on mediapersons and exemplary steps against the miscreants and to address himself to prevention of crime against Press.

The MUFP has also reminded the Chief Minister to institute Judicial Probe into brutal attack on media persons at the Silicon Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar to find out the cause of death of the student, negligence of the police in filing an Unnatural Death Case and sending the body for post mortem, failure for produce the CD in the court even after five days of incident and helping the assaulters. It is sad that he having personally handed over with MUFP memorandum in this matter in the audience he had grated to its representative, and having required a detail report from the Home Secretary on the spot with the assurance that exemplary action in the instant case would promptly be taken by his government, no trace of action against the culprit institute and its operator goons is discernible as yet. This indicating official nexus with the miscreants, the MUFP has urged upon the Chief Minister once again to institute a time bound Judicial Probe by a Retired Judge of Orissa High Court without any further delay.

The MUFP has further urged upon the State administration to take exemplary steps against the P.G. Students of M.K.C.G. Medical College, Berhampur and the district Superintendent of Police without any delay in order to avoid unwanted confrontation between the media and the Government.